“Farm to table” dining may have become commonplace on Chicago’s restaurant menus. But Chef Paul Virant was in the vanguard of the movement just 13 years when he opened Vie restaurant in the suburb of Western Springs. And he is all about giving back to the community. Within a recent three-day span, Paul did a cooking demo with the Gardeneers audience for schoolchildren in Englewood, then was the honoree for Angelic Organics Learning Center at their annual dinner.
We at FamilyFarmed conduct most of our work to build a better food system from our base in the city of Chicago. So we relish the opportunities to get into the country and visit the farmers who are the heart and soul of the Good Food movement — such as our trip Monday (July 24) to two of our woman-farmer friends in Pecatonica, a farm town 100 miles to the west with a whole lot of progressive thinking about Good Food growing.
Chelsea Callahan, FamilyFarmed’s Program Assistant, visited Blackberry Farm in the Volunteer State of Tennessee last weekend. This beautiful setting is best known for its world-class hotel and its famed culinary experiences. But the sprawling estate, as the name suggests, is also home to a working farm. And Chelsea found a new hero there, in John Coykendall, master gardener and seed saver.
Donna and Scott Lehrer gave up corporate work for organic farming near Chicago nearly two decades ago. Their Big Rock Organics at Lamb of God Farm not only provides the food products for their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscribers, but also wool for daughter Natasha Lehrer Lewis’ Esther’s Place fiber studio. The farm is a member of Band of Farmers: The Chicagoland CSA Coalition, and will be participating in the CSA Pavilion at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival at Chicago’s UIC Forum on Saturday, March 18.
The growing public demand for pasture-raised, sustainably produced meats has prompted increased interest among farmers. For Marina and John Backes, it prompted a move from suburban New Jersey to rural southwest Missouri, where since 2009 they have raised heritage breeds of hogs on pasture at their Circle B Ranch.
The Organic Center (TOC) has released the 10 most important organic findings of 2015, revealing scientific breakthroughs on the environmental and human health benefits of organic food and farming — from improving soil health and supporting water quality, to reducing our exposure to pesticides and mitigating climate change. Sustainable Food News reports in this republished article.
Locally grown organic wheat and other grains can be in short supply in Illinois, but Breslin Farms in the town of Ottawa helps fill that gap.